The Knicks managed late-game situations relatively well and defeated the upstart Phoenix Suns on Monday to nab their fifth straight victory. The Knicks’ current streak matches a league-high for the 2013-14 season, and its the exact type of streak the Knicks needed in order to save this season from being a total disaster. As we sit here on Tuesdsay morning, the Knicks are actually owners of the 8th and final playoff spot. It’s happening!
- The Knicks were awfully sloppy with the ball all night, and that’s one of the main reasons they couldn’t pull away from the scrappy Suns. The Knicks turned it over 18 times against just 10 for the Suns; that’s why Phoenix was able to be right in it despite shooting a ghastly 35% from the field. They attempted 93 total field goals to the Knicks’ 81.
- Outside of New York’s sloppy ball handling, their pick-and-roll defense was exposed yet again. Goran Dragic and Leandro Barbosa toyed with the Knicks’ p-and-r combos all night, with the former consistently getting open looks at the rim when the oldest play in basketball kept breaking down the Knicks’ defense to dust. Defending quick guards in the pick and roll is the Knicks’ Dragic Flaw, wouldn’t you say? Thanks folks, I’ll be here all week.
- But the Knicks made enough shots when they needed to, the biggest one being Raymond Felton’s corner 3-pointer towards the end of regulation off a nice feed from Carmelo Anthony. If it wasn’t for the very, very questionable foul call on Kenyon Martin late, Felton’s shot would have been the winner. As for that foul, I personally thought it was a bad call; Martin seemed to initially get all of the ball, and as Barbosa continued upwards, any contact Martin made with his hand or arm had come clearly after the block/strip. I think if there was no call there, the Suns wouldn’t have had that convincing of a case.
- It was good to see the Knicks rebound from a questionable call going against them and find a way to win. Too many times this iteration of the Knicks has let things like that snowball and derail a game.
- OT, where the Knicks have struggled this season. And they didn’t exactly light it up last night either somehow winning despite being shutout over the final 2:41 of the period. They defended well enough (thank you to Jeff Hornacek for having so much faith in Gerald Green. It’s adorable), grabbed tough rebounds, and actually managed the final seconds correctly. With a 3-point lead and the Suns inbounding with 3 seconds left, the Knicks gave a quick foul to put Phoenix to the line. The Knicks usually bungle this type of situation, and you couldn’t help but feel they were somehow going to screw it up (by, like, giving up a four point play, or getting a five second violation after the free throws, etc.). But Channing Frye acquiesced by missing the first free throw, and the Knicks escaped.
- Carmelo Anthony was on fire early. He posted a double-double in the first half alone, and ended up with a gaudy line of 29-16-4. He struggled most of the way through the second half and especially in crunch time, which is something that’s now become a troublesome trend. Make no mistake about it, he’s been bad in clutch time for over a full calendar year now.
- Some positive stats for the Knicks: Andrea Bargnani was a game-high +22 in 33 minutes; Raymond Felton chipped in 19 points; Carmelo got to his magic number of 4 assists; Kenyon Martin and Iman Shumpert pulled down 9 rebounds apiece (the Knicks boarded really well in general last night).
- Who knew how much Clyde Frazier loved the Plumlee Bros.? Also in the Clyde department, last night was seemingly the debut of a new Clydeism: “Scoopy Doop”. I could be wrong, but I’ve never heard that one before.
- On to the next one, tonight in Charlotte. Let’s hope Carmelo Anthony made the flight. (OBLIGATORY MELO FORGETTING THE KNICKS’ SCHEDULE JOKE HAHAHA HOO BOY WOWWWEEEEEE WHAT A KNEE SLAPPER)